Things seem to be moving right along! Here’s the story of the upcoming RoboCop statue, as reported by The Guardian!
Bronze, gleaming and over seven feet tall, RoboCop surveys the city of Detroit beneath his feet, striking terror into residents, tourists and pigeons. This is the dream of Brandon Walley, who will soon see it become a reality after his online campaign to build a statue of the ass-kicking cyber justice raised more than $60,000 (£37,000).
It all started when Walley tweeted mayor Dave Bing after noticing the lack of a certain something: “Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky & RoboCop would kick Rocky’s butt. He’s a GREAT ambassador for Detroit.” The response was not encouraging. For most people that would have been the end of it. Not for Walley. He galvanised internet interest and set up a Kickstarter page with a $50,000 goal. Within days, half of that had flooded in from residents and fans. The campaign ended last Saturday; it’s now just a case of getting the statue made and erected.
As Walley’s initial tweet pointed out, such statues are increasingly commonplace. Apart from Rocky in Philadelphia, there’s also Milwaukee’s tribute to the Fonz, an impressive Martian ship from War of the Worlds in Surrey, Cary Grant in Bristol, Woody Allen in Oviedo, Spain, and a tribute to Braveheart’s William Wallace (surely prompted by the film) that was so bad the residents of Stirling had it removed in 2008.
But is a RoboCop statue really such a good idea for Detroit? With the implosion of its once-bustling auto industry and the collapse of America’s industrial-based economy, the Motor City has been left economically decimated to the point that residents have fled in record numbers – leaving behind a deserted town, decaying and depressed. Hence the project has its critics, who have claimed it represents a crass waste of money. Moreover, the story of RoboCop – set in a futuristic Detroit drowning in crime – suggests an image of violence and urban deprivation the city is trying to get away from. And the 1987 tale of a cop who is brutally murdered only to be resurrected as a cyborg was actually filmed in Dallas, not Detroit.
Obviously, the money could go towards better causes, but Kickstarter is a site for private funding and Walley, who works for a non-profit organisation aiming to revitalise the city, says the campaign has started a healthy debate about philanthropy and why people are so keen to donate to this but not to local charities.
But why shouldn’t Detroit exploit the RoboCop connection for all the revenue it can get? Why not go the whole hog and construct an entire attraction around the metallic maniac? Like the Beatles Experience in Liverpool, but with more bad guys getting shot in the nuts.
There are those who would say that RoboCop is hardly an inspirational role model but to them I say, “Nay!” Beyond the wider themes of privatisation and morality, RoboCop reminds us that in dark times, even if corporations, criminals and governments screw you, you can still be human and hang on to your principles. (Interestingly, director Paul Verhoeven revealed last year that RoboCop was a metaphor for Christ. Maybe 1987 just wasn’t ready for RoboJesus).
And let us not forget the over-arching reason why Detroit should have a statue devoted to a film now so dated it resembles a Garth Marenghi sketch – it’s just funny. And the world could do with a bit of funny right now.